The Big Board: Defense

Part II of Hickey's Big Board update focuses on Notre Dame's top defensive targets.

Note: You can find the entire offer list for the 2014 class pinned at the top of our Football Forum Message Board.

The Big Board focuses on Notre Dame's targets at each position, including those that have reciprocated Irish interest. Today's review is of the program's top targets on defense:

Hickey's Top Safety Targets

-- Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas): His top six (alphabetically): Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas and Texas A&M. Many are projecting either Florida or Texas to land him, but he plans on taking all five official visits, and the chips have potential to turn in Irish favor in the fall.

-- Budda Baker (Belleuve, Washington): Has a top three of Oregon, UCLA and Washington, with Arizona State and Notre Dame rounding out his top five. Baker plans on taking officials in the fall, and like Adams, the Irish could gain some momentum with his recruitment during the fall season.

-- Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, Louisiana): Added Notre Dame to his list of nine shortly after the Irish offered. He's being recruited for both safety and corner by the Irish. No visit plans for the summer, so most likely the Irish will need to secure an official in the fall if they want to remain in contention. The rest of his top nine includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA and USC.

-- Juju Smith (Long Beach, California): Has a top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, and USC. Has two official visits planned – Notre Dame on Oct. 18 and Michigan on Sept. 7. Smith is more open to leaving than West Coast now than in recent months. He'll be one to see how teams on the west perform in the fall and use that as criteria for decision.

--Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Could project as a corner or safety in college. Hasn't named any favorites and will wait to narrow his list until after he takes visits this summer, which will have included Notre Dame, Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, UCLA, LSU, and Alabama. Irish improved their chances with Wilson during his June visit, but he is still going to be a tough one to land considering the number of schools making him a priority.

Hickey's Top Cornerback Targets

--Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Florida): Has a top two of Louisville and Vanderbilt, with Notre Dame and South Florida rounding out his top four. He visited Vanderbilt this spring, after which he named Vanderbilt his leader. He is being recruited hard by the Irish, and you can expect an official visit in the fall. He doesn't plan on deciding until after his season.

-- Adoree Jackson (Gardena, California): Plans to narrow his list after he takes visits this summer. Hearing primarily from Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA, and USC. Originally from the Midwest and distance is not a factor for Jackson, though he wants to run track, and he's considering caliber of a track program in his decision. USC, UCLA, Florida considered early favorites right now.

-- Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas): Won't name favorites, though Notre Dame is a favorite to land him, and he almost committed during his visit this spring. Alabama, Baylor, Ole Miss, SMU and Texas are also contenders. He has pushed back his decision date to next January and plans on taking all five officials after narrowing his list officially this summer.

Hickey's Top Inside Linebacker Targets

-- Nyles Morgan (Crete, Illinois): Hasn't officially trimmed his list, but he's looking at Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt. Ole Miss may be the team to beat right now, and he didn't visit Notre Dame this spring, so the Irish could be on the outside looking in if he doesn't visit this summer. Plans on taking all of his official visits, so there's still a lot to play out in his recruitment.

-- Kevin Mouhon (Norcross, Georgia): Considered a rather heavy Tennessee lean, but added Notre Dame to his top five after visiting and will give the Irish an official visit. Plans to also visit Florida, Florida State and Georgia Tech this summer and will wait to decide on Signing Day.

Hickey's Top Outside Linebacker Targets

-- Grant Blankenship (The Colony, Texas): Grew up as a Notre Dame fan and visited the Irish with his parents for a few days in June. Oklahoma is recruiting him very hard as well, and it should come down between the Irish and the Sooners. Blankenship is being recruited to play Cat, and he'll make a decision before his season starts.

-- Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Notre Dame is still in contention here, but there are currently other schools that sit better with Andrews, namely ones that don't use a Cat linebacker. No visit plans set to see the Irish (yet) for the summer, but he does want to see Michigan before deciding by summer's end. Clemson, Florida and Ole Miss are also schools to watch. Since he has taken so long to put out a top 10, I wouldn't be completely surprised to see him either take his recruitment into fall, or commit to a school without putting out a list of top schools.

-- Richard Yeargin (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Has a top 12 that includes Notre Dame, and the Irish have always been among his very top, especially after his June visit. He will also visit USC and Clemson this summer. He doesn't plan on deciding until Signing Day, and right now, Notre Dame and Florida have the inside track.

Hickey's Top Defensive Line Targets

-- DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Georgia): Had a great visit with Notre Dame in June, and the Irish did a lot to bolster their shot at this five-star. Carter may be still be favoring Alabama and Georgia right now, but he's going to give Notre Dame an official visit. He doesn't plan to decide until Signing Day.

-- DE Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, California): Late bloomer in recruiting and went from 0 to 16 offers this spring. He has no favorites right now, but he has said he'd like visit Notre Dame this summer. Irish have a great shot to land Dickerson in the fall.

-- DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Kentucky): Has a top three of Alabama, Kentucky, and Notre Dame. He had an awesome visit to Notre Dame in June, and he'll surely be back for an official in the fall. He's also considering Louisville and Ohio State.

-- DT Josh Frazier (Springdale, Arkansas): His top two are Alabama and Arkansas, with Auburn, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and USC making up his top six. Opted to sign up for a foreign language in the fall in order to keep Notre Dame in contention, but the Irish still have some ground to make up.

-- DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, New York): Had a good visit to Notre Dame this summer, and the Irish are in great position right now. He's expected to take official visits and Notre Dame will surely receive one.

-- DE Jaylen Johnson (Corona, California): Has the Irish in his top six (Boise State, Northwestern, Oregon, USC and Vanderbilt), and he visited Notre Dame in June. Plans to announce before his season starts, and Boise State/USC hold the lead.

-- DE
Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas): Visited Notre Dame earlier in June and has the Irish on his radar. Will be a tough steal from the South, and is also considering Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but he's saying he's open right now, and Irish could continue to make moves with him.

Top Irish Interests

CB: Nick Watkins, Kyle Gibson

S: Juju Smith, Quincy Wilson

MLB: Nyles Morgan

OLB: Grant Blankenship, Richard Yeargin

DL: Josh Frazier, Lorenzo Carter, Matt Elam, Matt Dickerson, Thomas Holley, Jaylen Johnson, Solomon Thomas Top Stories